Thursday 30th September 2010 21:52
Today's blog is going to be about the amazing story of 'Zhu Jianqiang', the English translation being 'Strong-willed Pig'. Zhu, for short, is a 10-month old pig that was only born with two front legs and has learnt to balance on them to the point where she can walk.
Image © Rex Features
One of a nine-pig litter, her owner, Wang Xihai trained her to walk each day by lifting up her tail and spending quite some time doing so. He's even taught her to walk upside down even though his wife's first thought was to dump it. Since then, a local circus has offered to buy the pig for a considerable amount of money but Wang refused.
The pig is now a local celebrity in China and Wang won't sell her, no matter how much he's offered. What a brilliant story.
Wednesday 29th September 2010 23:16
You may have noticed a few changes about the place… I've added some 'Share' buttons on various pages and will do the same on my blog, once the new month arrives.
Launched in 2006, AddThis has grown dramatically since its launch and helps website publishers and bloggers, like myself, spread their content across the web. Visitors are easily able to bookmark and share content to their favourite social destinations with a choice of great little clickable buttons that can be added to your website.
Not only that, it's fast, powerful and easy to install, as well as being totally free, and offers sophisticated analytics to help users understand how and where their content is being shared.
To add your AddThis button to your website, please click on the logo above.
Tuesday 28th September 2010 22:56
Happy Birthday, Tanya… I'd say she's 46 but that wouldn't be very nice, so I won't. I felt awful having to go and freelance today, leaving Tanya all alone on her birthday, well, up until Abbi had arranged to come round in the afternoon. It all felt a little rushed this morning, especially as she'd already had her presents… left me feeling quite sad actually.
Luckily though, we had the judging of the first league competition to look forward to tonight, although Tanya wasn't feeling confident at all - not that she ever does, come club competition night. Anyway, to cut a long story short, she ended up being one of three A league members to receive a 10/10 with her shot of my eye, aptly named, 'Glazed View' (shown above). I did manage a 9/10 so I was rather happy too.
Whilst at the club, I had my new Havant Camera Club logo finalised. It will be appearing on the Havant Open Exhibition literature, such as the programme, invitations and posters, although it will have to be passed by the committee for anything else, that's the way it has to be. Nevertheless, I'm pleased the people concerned liked it and it has the potential for different colour swatches, if need be.
I shall have the logo as a clickable link above, so you can make comparisons with the old logo on the website.
Monday 27th September 2010 15:51
As well as pay for Tanya and I to go and watch Ross Noble last week and buy her some Grisport hiking boots, I wanted to be able to give her something on her actual birthday. As you may well have realised from previous years, I always like to have flowers delivered to her because, like most women, she loves receiving flowers. On my way back home from freelancing, I called in on Emsworth to order some flowers from Citrus Flowers, based in The Square.
I asked that a bouquet of flowers be delivered to Tanya's work, gave the florist the address details and my mobile number, wrote a card out, paid for it all and drove home. Once in, I made us both a cup of tea and sat chatting to Tanya, asking her what her and Abbi had planned for her day off together. Yes, "Day off together…" Then, in my head, I thought "Oh bollocks, she's booked a day off and I've arranged for her flowers to be delivered to work."
I then said to Tanya, "Ermm… just need to make a 'phone call… only I had the wrong florist's number on my mobile so I just darted off in my car, back to Emsworth. Eearlier, when I had walked into the florist, I had spotted some rather beautiful Sunflowers, some two-tone Chrysanthemums and some beautiful yellow Roses, so I pointed them out to the more-than-helpful florist and before I knew it, she'd picked out some incredibly vivid orange Gerberas and a few other superb autumnal-coloured flowers and leaves.
Rather than take the risk of Tanya being in or not, I decided that it would be easier to give her her flowers tonight, which spoilt the only surprise she would have been getting but it was the best solution.
The bouquet is unbelievably beautiful, so if you live in the Havant area and want to surprise your loved one, please click on the logo above to find out more about Citrus Flowers.
Sunday 26th September 2010 12:00
Tanya went off on her voluntary duties again this morning and left me to struggle with watching Sky Sports 1 televise the match between Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United, whilst drinking beer.
Shit happens, I guess.
Reluctantly, I drove to Morrisons to buy a few things, one of which was some beer, then drive back in time to watch the match. You've never heard or seen me kick and scream so much, I can tell you.
No sooner had I started watching, 6' 5" Bolton defender Zat Knight scored a flick on in the 6th minute… what a start! Bolton seemed to be completely on the front foot, counter-attacking really well and closing down the ever-threatening Manchester United squad. Some may say their game plan was boring, yet I thought they were frustrating United perfectly, and that's when they usually make their mistakes. Sure enough though, in true United style, they managed their equaliser, and a superb one at that. Nani picked up the ball at the halfway line and somehow bobbed and weaved through the heart of the Bolton defence, placing the ball past Jaaskelainen and into the back of the Bolton net… 1-1 and that's how it stayed until half time, and just as well… United definitely had the upper hand.
I was half expecting the second half to be a nonentity… far from it. Bolton had managed to form their defensive duties once more and United were frustrated again. Then, in the 67th minute, Lee managed to feed an inch perfect ball to Elmander, who then pivoted, finding Petrov in the process who shot with his weaker foot, taking a nasty deflection in the process and past the helpless Van de Sar. Could Bolton do it?!
In the 70th minute Fletcher was substituted for Michael Owen and no sooner had he come on, United were awarded a free-kick and somehow Owen, despite his height disadvantage, managed to flick a header that looped over the defence, glancing across the penalty area and into the back of the net off the far post. After the score became 2-2, Bolton had chances to go ahead for the third time in the match but none of them were converted. It ended up 2-2 and I was highly delighted that we'd managed a very valuable point.
Saturday 25th September 2010 08:45
Had an earlyish start this morning because we'd both volunteered our services to help out at the judging at Havant Camera Club's 40th National Exhibition which was being held at Emsworth Community Centre. The judges for this afternoon's encounter were Colin Westgate FRPS, MFIAP, APAGB, Chrissie Westgate FRPS and Maurice Pugh.
They had a good couple of thousand images to judge all in all, over three different categories, Open Colour, Open Monochrome and Nature, and two different media for each, prints and projected images. Once they'd completed that, there was the small matter of judging the Havant Camera Club Member's entry as well.
The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all, even though we were all absolutely shattered at the end of it. We'd been working practically non-stop from 9am - 6:30pm apart from a very pleasant lunch break and several tea/coffee breaks in between. During the print judging, I was responsible for reading out the titles of each print, albeit that the judges, Maurice in particular, felt that titles were irrelevant, "It's the image we're looking at."
Anyway, the highlight of the day for me came from John Gowen, a fellow member of Havant Camera Club. Before I share it, I want to paint a picture of what John is like… he's of advanced years (very difficult to put an age on him actually), possibly has a military background (will need to check that out) and very well spoken indeed. Never have I heard him swear or make any sort of double entendre.
So, the scene is set… I was announcing the titles of the Nature prints and one was called 'Frolicking Elephants'… a rather tame title but basically it was of a male elephant mounting a female one (I'm sure they get the picture now - Ed), so the judges gave their marks and the next print in the sequence, I kid you not, was of two black seabirds, entitled, 'Two Shags', to which John quickly responded, "We've already had one shag." An absolute classic and I struggled to compose myself for quite some time after.
Anyway, if you need a very spacious and convenient building to hold an event, or to find out about what's going on at Emsworth Community Centre, please click on the logo above.
Friday 24th September 2010 21:05
I received a text from Tanya's brother, Damien, tonight, which read, "What a game." I automatically thought, "Must be Pompey", yet I thought their match was scheduled for tomorrow. I quickly did a search online and couldn't find any reference at first and then delved a little deeper, only to find that Portsmouth were playing Leicester City at Fratton Park and the score was 4-0 to the Blue Army with a good half an hour to go. No sooner had I turned the match on, Steve Howard scored for Leicester in the 71st minute… was it to be a bad omen?
The fact that Leicester City had beaten Pompey on Tuesday night's Carling Cup third-round tie didn't help matters. The four previous goals were scored by Liam Lawrence, 10th minute penalty, he then doubled his score tally in the 33rd minute (as well as the fact that they were his first ever goals for Pompey). David Nugent then made it 3-0 in the 58th minute, with Dave Kitson making it four just one minute later.
Four then became 5-1 with another goal from Dave Kitson in the 83rd minute and just to cap a perfect evening for the struggling Championship club, Michael Brown scored from an emphatic 30-yard solo run in the 90th minute, with a finish from an angle that most would have deemed impossible. Wonderful stuff and let's just hope that it's the start of an amazing comeback from Pompey.
Thursday 23rd September 2010 11:54
Firstly, I'd like to wish my Mum a very Happy Birthday, so… Happy Birthday, Mum!
A colleague of mine where I freelance has a mammoth interest in art, culture and history. I decided to show him the artwork that Tanya had amazingly found last weekend.
Not all of it was to his taste, then again, I wouldn't have expected it to be, nevertheless, there were a handful that he genuinely liked and that was good enough for me. He said he'd be upfront and honest and categorically state if he thought it was rubbish. I also managed to scan in the 23 pieces of art, all painted to the same size of paper, using several different mediums, watercolour, acrylic, pastels and felt pens.
I've decided to show four of the 23 for the moment, that is until I have time to go through all of them. They were painted between 1984-86 and are varying in style. Whether it's apparent that they were all painted by me is another story but I'm still very proud of them all and it's almost given me the impetus to pick up a paintbrush once more… we'll have to see!
Reading from top left to bottom right, their titles and years are as follows: 'Abstract Layers' (1985), 'Conflict' (1986), 'Eastern Fuschia' (1984) and 'Rivington Pike' (1984).
Wednesday 22nd September 2010 20:00
Even though it's not Tanya's birthday until next week, as part of her birthday treat, I bought tickets for us both to go and watch Geordie comedian, Ross Noble, at Portsmouth Guildhall. It was whilst I found out about the Pompey Beer Festival that I first discovered he was playing there and the fact that we'd both enjoyed his off-the-wall humour when he'd appeared on such programmes as 'Have I Got News For You' that gave me good enough reason for us to go an watch him.
Ever since then, I've been excited to announce it on here, yet I've had to keep totally quiet for Tanya often reads my blog, mainly to keep an eye on what I say and that I have the facts right about things.
Ross Noble has been performing since he was smuggled in to his local comedy club at the age of 15. Licensing laws meant that immediately after his slot he had to leave through the kitchen - but he has never looked back.
In the years since, Ross has become known as a truly exciting and genuinely original performer and has received huge critical acclaim. He is now perhaps the most successful cult comedian of our time, with a loyal fanbase derived largely from the ‘word-of-mouth’ recommendations of those having seen him perform live, and that's exactly how I'm going to plug him.
Before I leave you to have a look at his website, I'll share one quip of his from tonight. He's a big fan of Twitter and spends considerable time on there, mainly trying to annoy people, particularly the BNP. He said, "I go on Twitter a lot and send annoying Tweets to people. I sent one to the BNP and it read, 'Dear BNP, I've eaten quite a lot of Chinese takeaways recently and am feeling somewhat Chinese. Should I leave the country until I've had a poo?'"
Please click on the Nonsensory Overload poster above, to view his website.
Tuesday 21st September 2010 07:04
The good thing about today is it couldn't possibly be any worse than yesterday. It started with me having to go and collect my Royal Mail Special Delivery package at Havant sorting office. Job done and dusted, all I'd have to do is mount them later.
Later on in the afternoon, we were miraculously connected to the internet again, even though we'd booked a technician to come and sort out our problem; yesterday's engineer must have had a right bollocking for doing what he did, especially as Tanya and I had collectively spent over three hours making complaints to Virgin Media.
So, everything was hunky dory again, especially as I'd mounted my two prints ready for hand-in at Havant Camera Club… as if the day couldn't have been any better, when Paul Tilley, a member of the PhotoPortal and one of the photographers who joined us to exhibit at Rivington Galleries over two years ago, posted what I would have to describe as one of the funniest photographs I have ever seen.
If you click on his image above, it will take you to his website. Thanks once again for allowing me to use it on my blog, Paul.
Monday 20th September 2010 14:31
Well, what do you bloody well know?! Our internet connection was down yet again and if that wasn't enough, the idiots at Royal Mail had tried to deliver the package of prints that I'd been expecting on Saturday. Pathetic.
I have problems with a good few things in life, as you've probably noticed, with one of them being inept people. When you pay for a service and some mindless scrotum fails it, they need a swift sharp kick in the balls as far as I'm concerned.
I was happily ordering my Mum's birthday present online when the connection ceased. I knew right away that some fuckwit engineer from Virgin had cut us off… I sprinted down the road and sure enough, someone was there. I categorically told him that he'd just cut us off and he replied with the fact that the 'cab' had failed, whatever one of those was.
Turned out that he'd blatantly bullshitted me. That annoyed me even more, and I do hope he pays a visit to our house sometime soon because I don't forget a face that bullshits me.
In between all of this, I'd also had strong words with Royal Mail, purely because I paid for a Saturday delivery and it didn't arrive. Tossers. I actually had to question myself as to whether I'd ever experienced a day where I'd dealt with such a myriad of inferior ignoramuses...
Sunday 19th September 2010 10:14
We started the day by having a lovely morning walk around Emsworth Mill Pond, stopping off to feed the birdlife there, namely Mallards, Mute Swans, Coots and the ever-hungry Black-headed Gulls. With it being quite a nice start to the day, there were plenty of people around, including quite a lot of activity from the Emsworth Slipper Sailing Club.
Once home I decided to tackle a couple of odd jobs that needed doing; re-siliconing a gap in the bathroom and repositioning a tile in the kitchen that had decided to break free. This meant a quick trip up to Homebase, which is about a ten minute drive away from where we live.
Homebase is part of the Home Retail Group which was demurred from its parent company GUS plc in October of 2006. Homebase is the UK's second largest home improvement retailer and has more than 300 large, out-of-town stores throughout the UK and Ireland. It sells over 30,000 products across DIY and decorating, home and garden ranges and has a growing internet presence.
For more information, please click on their logo above.
Rather than purchase a huge tub of tile adhesive, I decided that the best and cheapest solution would be to buy a squeezy tube of Polycell Multi Purpose Quick Drying Polyfilla and it proved absolutely perfect for the job. Polyfilla is made by the ICI Group of Companies, now a subsidiary of AkzoNobel, a Dutch conglomerate, one of the largest chemical producers in the world. It produces paints and speciality products, employs around 29,000 people and had a turnover of just over £4.8 billion in 2006. The major brands that they're responsible for are Polycell, Dulux, Cuprinol, Hammerite, International, ICI Trade Paints UK and, of course, AkzoNobel.
To find out more about Polycell, or to download their latest brochure, please click on the logo above.
You may remember that at the beginning of February this year, I talked about erotic photography, asking the question whether you thought it was art or porn. Well, I stumbled upon an equally good website with some absolutely superb photography of what some may describe as sexually explicit. I'd say 50% of the work on this website is acceptable but hardly sensual or erotic (in my eyes)… however, the monochrome work and fairly abstract work of the human form and genitalia is tastefully done. I'm aware that this photography isn't everyone's cup of tea so please do not visit this site if you're either easily offended or you are not of the legal age to do so.
As usual, click on the logo above but avoid doing so if at work! The link will direct you to the archive where a whole series of thumbnails will appear… that way it's as less of a shock to the system rather than take a chance with whatever the main image of the day is.
Saturday 18th September 2010 06:16
Tanya and I had talked about getting up early enough to go and catch the sunrise somewhere this weekend; today was that day. In the end, we actually woke up a little too late, nevertheless, it did give us time to drive to Chichester and walk around the city before the usual shoppers and tourists would begin to filter in.
It was a beautiful crisp morning - I almost expected it to be frosty (my ears become a really good gauge of what is really cold). We had a good walk around the city, both taking many photographs, my pick of which became my 365 shot. The slightly unfortunate thing was that we had to be back because I was expecting a Royal Mail Special Delivery package with my two prints in. Ah well, we had enjoyed about an hour and a half's free parking.
Once home, Tanya, in her sporadic OCD fashion, decided she was going to blitz our bedroom. I shouldn't say it's OCD, after all it is a disorder and we shouldn't joke about disorders, should we? (It can be fun - Ed). No, Tanya has these feelings once in a while, although it's better to go along with them rather than fight them, and the thing is, they do prove to be very worthwhile.
We both ended up chucking out loads of stuff, from junk to clothing… I think I had about five pairs of jeans that I wouldn't stand a cat in hell's chance of getting on any more. Several hours later, the bedroom was back to its former glory, apart from the fact that we're both thinking it needs a change of colour.
Whilst tidying wardrobes, Tanya found an A5 sized hard-backed envelope and asked if I knew what it was… I couldn't contain my excitement because inside it were four pencil sketches of four mates of mine who were all in a band that I used to mix for. As well as that, there were a lot of paintings I did between 1984-86 that I thought I'd lost forever so some time soon I shall either photograph them or scan them in and sort out some sort of gallery for them on here. I'm that excited, I could test drive a Tonka.
At 12:59, we noticed a Royal Mail van hurtling up the street… looks like my prints had arrived bang on time! As I opened the door to him, I realised that he wasn't delivering my prints, it was my hiking boots that Tanya's buying me for my birthday (I knew about them, especially as I had to return the size 11s and order a size 12). I was happy to receive the boots, yet not receiving the prints was a blow, especially as I'd planned to mount them in good time for Tuesday's hand-in.
Right, back to the hiking boots… remarkably, after hunting around for quite some time, Tanya and I opted to choose boots of the same make, Italian firm Grisport. I'm absolutely delighted with mine, especially as I'm now able to wiggle my big toe in them… if I can't, it makes me feel physically ill, very ill at that! So I'm now the proud owner of some Grisport Quatro boots which are a sturdy backpacking boot which can handle the toughest terrains and has a reinforced vibram outsole, developed in conjunction with Grisport designers. As well as that, it's Spotex lined, meaning it's both waterproof and breathable.
For more information about the backpacking range that Grisport offer, or indeed their extensive range of other footwear, please click on the logo above.
Friday 17th September 2010 15:04
Subsequent to a swift kick up the arse, Tanya finally got through to me about sorting out two prints that I will be entering into the first league competition at Havant Camera Club.
After little deliberation, I chose to go with two landscapes for a change, although I have every intention of rekindling my play on words theme very shortly, especially as titles are finally being read out. Some think it unnecessary that they be read, whereas I think it's exemplary.
Anyway, the images featured above are the two prints I have chosen.
Later on, whilst desperately trying to catch up with my blog, I stumbled upon a logo that I rather like, yet I should have absolutely every reason to detest it, particularly as it uses a font that I used to see day in and day out… that would be none other than Cooper Black. The trouble is, retro fonts are cool again, yet back in 1986 when I first became interested in typography, I couldn't think of a more appalling font.
I could rant, but I won't, for I'd rather talk about a media company who DTV Services trade as. Founded on the 30th October 2002, Freeview is a free-to-air digital terrestrial television promotions company who operate in the United Kingdom. The service is jointly run by its five equal shareholders, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and transmitter operator Arqiva.
In 2007, the digital switchover started to take place in the various television regions throughout the UK and by the end of 2012, every region will have made the switchover.
To find out more, please click on the Freeview logo above.
Thursday 16th September 2010 22:42
Whilst on the hunt to buy something unusual for my Mum's birthday, I stumbled upon yet another great internet find… emphasis on the word, 'Find'.
The website's strapline is, 'Every Store. Every Product. All At Once.' and that's exactly what they offer. The website in question is called, 'TheFind' and it's their mission to help every internet shopper to find exactly what they want to buy, and in turn, help every merchant, large or small, to reach those shoppers.
TheFind is the ultimate search engine for shopping and puts every product, every store, every sale, coupon and discount, right at the fingertips of the internet shopper, far exceeding the range of comparison websites. Not only that, you have the option of entering your location so that the search can pinpoint the nearest places to buy or order your goods, as well as having the option of choosing the exact price range you're looking for, a preference for particular stores, as well as filtering your options as far down as colour and brand of product.
I could go on, but I won't… you're better off clicking on the logo above to start your own search...
Wednesday 15th September 2010 20:55
Over the past five months, I've been entering the online AP themed competitions, only I've been using my own theme within each theme.
The first of the themes I entered was back in May, simply titled, 'Built'. The brief was as follows…
May - "Built" - constructions in our lives
We are surrounded by amazing feats of design and engineering, walls that stand, corners that fit, decorations that dress the functional. Photograph architecture that inspires you, that makes you wonder, or that you just plain love. Shoot the whole building or just a corner, a joint or a bolt, but show what an incredible thing it is.
I decided to try and incorporate a Scrabble letters theme and you will see my interpretation below each brief…
Then came June's theme, 'Small Wonders', so I chose to continue the Scrabble theme, along with a pinch of humour. The brief was as follows…
June - "Small wonders" - small and amazing
The best things come in small parcels - unless you’re really hungry. Find the details or a tiny subject and magnify it for us all to see. Get closer than we would usually, so the things we miss can be brought to life. Make it macro or just close; either way, make it wonderful.
July's theme took a little more thought, then suddenly I became inspired. The brief was as follows…
July - "Shoot it square" - as broad as high
There’s nothing like a square to contain, restrain, restrict, reserve or display. Forget those oblong viewfinders and switch to the classic view, working with equal height and width. Of course you haven’t got a Hasselblad, but I don’t know that – go fool me with a 6x6 crop.
'Only Human', the theme for August proved to be the biggest challenge yet, and I was almost going to give up… the brief was as follows…
August - "Only human" - persons and people
You amaze me people; you smile, dance, cry, stare, walk, sit, talk and sometimes do nothing at all. It’s amazing that you can move, considering what you are made of. Take a portrait, a still life, an action shot, an x-ray, wildlife – but make it of a person or persons.
Finally, this month's theme is 'RGB', the theme had actually been chosen by Tanya so it was 'must enter' competition… the brief was as follows…
September - "RGB" - Strictly additives
The Holy Trinity of colours – white can’t exist unless they sing in unison, each pulling the same burden of photons through your apertures. Take a picture in praise of these colours – you might have a favourite, but make sure each is present...
Tuesday 14th September 2010 19:30
Tonight saw two things… one was that we finally had our broadband reconnected, the other was the start of a new series all about photography, over on Channel 5.
This instructional series, aptly named, 'How To Take Stunning Pictures' offers expert tips and advice for capturing professional-quality images, whatever the occasion. Hosted by 'Gadget Show' presenter Suzi Perry, this series sees six top photographers oversee their own masterclass in the art of taking beautiful pictures.
Tonight's episode saw celebrity photographer Harry Borden instructing two budding snappers in how to turn simple snapshots of friends and family into stunning portraits. Harry's students were then put to the test with assignments that included producing a heroic portrait for the Help for Heroes charity.
To find out more, or watch tonight's episode, please click on the show's opening graphic above.
Monday 13th September 2010 19:30
As a teenager and well into my Twenties, whenever I heard an 'old person' comment that "the youth of today should think themselves lucky", I just used to shake my head and retaliate in an arrogant and aggressive manner, especially when they would then continue to say something along the lines of, "And you should be grateful about what your forefathers did for you, otherwise you wouldn't be here today." At the time, all I could think is, "Shut the fuck up you old twat, why should I have to even think about thanking them?"
How that attitude has changed. You can't help but have the utmost respect for those people, especially as the majority of them had no choice but to fight for King and Country. Back then, I'm sure patriotism was far stronger than it is today, both for the Royal Family and for the government; both were strong, almost impenetrable forces, unlike what they are today. I couldn't even begin to think how I'd feel in such a position whereby I had to go to war… doesn't bear thinking about to be honest. Never been a fighter, nor do I have any intention of starting to be. I'd sooner run away, probably shitting myself in the process.
This week, on BBC1, they're covering the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and tonight's programme was absolutely remarkable. It was called, 'Battle of Britain: The South Coast Trail' and told of some unearthed forgotten relics that had been buried for 70 years.
One particular moving story was that of 93 year old Battle of Britain pilot, Bill Green. His Hurricane was shot down where his bullet-proof windscreen had been hit, he knew he had no alternative but to stand up and the force of the air pressure outside sucked him out of his plane.
Despite deploying his parachute, it didn't open properly and the cords and material became wrapped around his body as he was travelling towards Earth at 140mph. Having only been married twelve weeks before, thoughts of his demise started running through his mind. "Suddenly there was a jolt, the wind must have got under one of the folds and puffed it open, it puffed the lot out, and kicked me back." He said, "The quietude that I experienced then, had more impact than any noise I have ever heard." His plane plummeted down to Earth three miles east crashing into a small copse on the top of a hill. They managed to locate the site and with the help of an aviation archaeologist.
Bill returned to the site, along with presenter, Howard Tuck, where bits of his Hurricane were unearthed and given to him. A special moment in history for a very courageous man who had actually been shot down twice in nine days and has lived to tell the tale.
To watch that particular episode, or to find out more about the programmes the BBC are televising, please click on the Battle of Britain logo above.
Sunday 12th September 2010 11:42
Woke up remarkably fresh this morning, despite quite a heavy drinking session yesterday. We were both set to do next-to-nothing, apart from sit at our computers all day and chill out… that was until I realised we'd lost our internet connection, yet again, the second time this week and we were both livid. We both hold our hands up and will freely admit that we both spend way too much time in front of them, nevertheless, it's not like we're in front of them all the time. After Tanya had contacted Virgin Media, it soon became apparent that we'd be without an internet connection until Tuesday night. What a load of fucking bollocks.
It gave it us no alternative but to sit in front of the television instead, particularly as the weather was dreadful, it just seemed to rain, non-stop. Luckily, there were back-to-back episodes of Channel 4's brilliant series, 'Come Dine With Me', narrated by the brilliantly funny David Lamb.
The television series was first broadcast as far back as January 2005 and involves either four or five amateur chefs who compete against each other hosting a dinner party for the other contestants. This goes on until every contestant has hosted a dinner party, and at the end of each night, the competitors rate the host's food and hospitality with a score out of ten. Whoever accumulates the most points at the end of the week wins a £1,000 cash prize.
What makes the show though, is the fact that it attracts a whole range of weird and wonderful people, ranging from the toe-curlingly outrageous to out and out paranoid weirdo freaks. Comedian Dave Lamb is quick to pick up on complete failures or hostile situations, with inevitably dry and bitingly sarcastic narration. One of the most enjoyable series on television.
To find out more, or watch previous episodes, please click on the programme's opening graphic above.
Saturday 11th September 2010 08:41
Earlier in the week, I'd booked four tickets online for four of us, that's Tanya, Damien (Tanya's brother) and Jamie (a jolly good friend of all of ours) to go to the 5th Wickham Charity Beer Festival. We had the option of booking tickets for the afternoon, night or an all-day session. Tanya suggested we went for the all-day session… which was a good thing, particularly as I had the power to blame her if I ended up in a total state. Bargain!
Tickets for the all-day session were £8.00 each plus a £1.00 booking fee per ticket. The good thing was, all proceeds would go towards local good causes, one of which was Pancreatic Cancer UK, a cause that proved to be very close to some of our hearts.
To find out more about the charity, please click on the logo above.
Prior to the event, Damien came round to ours and we had some breakfast before he drove us back round to his so that we could then walk to Havant train station where we'd planned to catch the 10:00 train to Fareham. In the meantime, Jamie has already started his train journey from Southsea up to Fareham. The journey took about 15 minutes and we met Jamie outside the station… we were well on our way to the beer festival. There were plenty of taxis waiting outside, so we jumped in one and travelled the few miles up the road to Wickham. Strangley enough, arriving there at 10:30 meant that we were a good half an hour early, plus we were the first to arrive there… at least it meant we had a choice of where to sit and enjoy the rest of the day.
Much more information about the event can be found by clicking on the Wickham Beer Festival logo above.
Between us, we tried sixteen of the 36 ales and ciders that were available, though three of those sixteen were just tasters for me, the rest involved either pints or half pints (although the half measures were generous). One of the main reasons for arriving so early is because we didn't want to miss out on trying the two Havant Brewery ales that were on (And here's me thinking you were all piss heads - Ed).
Sure enough, we started with one of the best ales of the day, 'Dropped' by Havant Brewery, an excellent copper-coloured ale which tasted far stronger than 3.8% ABV. A clean, refreshing pint with a slightly citrus flavour with undertones of malt. Definitely a session ale and we'd all have been happy to drink that all day… however, we had a lot of different brews to get through.
For more information about the ale and Havant Brewery, please click on the pump clip above.
Another great ale we all had was 'Wagtail' by Northamptonshire-based Great Oakley Brewery, a 3.9% ABV golden ale. Brewed with New Zealand hops, it has a unique bitterness alongside both a fruity and hoppy aroma. Very moreish, especially as it was one that we all revisited later.
Please click on the pump clip above to find out more about the other ales Great Oakley have on offer.
During the one and a half hour interval between the afternoon and evening sessions, we walked into Wickham in the hope that we could find somewhere that sold something that we could stuff our faces with to soak up some of the quaffed ale. Co-op provided us with exactly what we needed, plenty of Ginsters pasties, crisps and wraps. Excellent… we were now armed with further defence for tonight's onslaught.
Rather than make this into a lengthy epic real ale blog, I shall just review my favourite two brews of the evening session, with the first being 'Silly Billy' by Rutland-based The Grainstore Brewery. With a name like Silly Billy, it's just asking to be tried. It had a very floral smell and taste, yet the amber-coloured 4.3% ABV crisp, clean and fruity ale was rather nice.
Clicking on the pump clip above will provide you with more information about the brewery.
The last ale to be blogged about, and conveniently the last ale of the night was a pint of 4.6% ABV 'Autumn Ale' by the acclaimed Sussex-based Langham Brewery. I'd already heard of the brewery, especially as I've already had bottled 'Sundowner', 'Hip Hop' and 'LSD', all of which are exceptional ales, this one was no exception. 'Autumn Ale' is a deep honey-coloured ale made with Sussex hops which give this ale a spicy but fruity hop aroma which is carried through to the taste, lingering with a superb fresh and moreish honey finish.
For more information about Langham Brewery, please click on the 'Autumn Ale' pump clip above.
A very enjoyable day out and we all arrived home in one piece and, remarkably, I felt absolutely fine, albeit slightly mellow.
Friday 10th September 2010 19:30
The final Big Brother to be screened on Channel 4.
Yes, today's blog just had to encompass the cult TV series, 'Big Brother' and the ten years that it has been on our screens. Some loathed it, some loved it, either way, it was an iconic series and throughout its ten year history, diva Davina McCall has been at the forefront of every series.
Back in 2000, Scouser, Craig Phillips won, followed by series 2 winner, Brian Dowling from Ireland, Series 3, the first female winner, Kate Lawler, Series 4, Scot, Cameron Stout, Series 5, Portuguese sex-change Nadia Almada. In 2005, Series 6 saw Geordie, Anthony Hutton win followed by Series 7 winner, Tourette's sufferer, Pete Bennet. Series 8 was Nigerian, Brian Belo, Series 9 was Welsh teacher, Rachel Rice, Series 10 was Sophie Reade and finally this year's winner was the bubbly Bristol bird, Josie Gibson.
The final part of Big Brother's life on Channel 4 ended with an 'Ultimate Big Brother' where several contestants from the Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother past joined each other in the house to battle out the ultimate Big Brother contestant. Brian Dowling deservedly won.
To find out much more about the iconic television series, along with final words from contestants and presenters, please click on the R 'eye' P logo above.
Thursday 9th September 2010 18:24
A rather interesting story was announced on the BBC's Six O'clock News tonight, all about some undated twenty pence pieces that have gone into circulation, which involves a mismatch of designs. In this particular instance, the new reverse side (tails) and the old Queen's portrait side (heads) have been put onto the same coin. The old heads side has no date and has been matched with the new reverse which also has no date, therefore the coin has no date on at all.
Since July 2009, when the coins first came into circulation, the value of the Undated 20p has doubled from £50 to £100, suggesting that the coins are rarer than initial estimates indicated. Apparently, this is the first time in over 300 years that undated coins have been released.
The Royal Mint did make an error back in 1983 and struck some two pence pieces with the wording 'new pence' rather than 'two pence' (don't forget, when decimalisation first came in, for the first few years of production, the two pence coins did have 'new pence' stamped on them). However, the 1983 two pence mule is currently worth a couple of hundred pounds, yet the Royal Mint have little evidence of just how many were minted because they never actually entered circulation, they only appeared in special promotional packs, nor did every pack contain one. Notably, a two pence coin dated 1983 with 'new pence' on the tails side fetched a staggering £600 at auction last year.
To find out more about the Royal Mint, please click on their logo above.
Wednesday 8th September 2010 09:19
A colleague of mine, where I freelance, suddenly started to randomly use expressions in some language I wasn't accustomed to. Luckily, due to my extensive knowledge of Google searches, it wasn't long before I realised that he was using Yiddish (Hebrew) terminology. It left me with only one alternative, to respond with, "Leh Timzoz La'Apiphior", which I'm sure, if curiosity gets the better of you, you'll look up on this website.
The website in question is called 'youswear.com' and teaches you how to swear in a mulitude of languages. Possibly the coolest website on the planet! You will now be able to learn how to tell some they have "big breasts" in Armenian, or how to say "shit" in Czech.
To find out much more, please click on the logo above.
Tuesday 7th September 2010 15:00
My word, what a busy day today was. Tanya let me know in the morning that my eight prints had arrived at her work; which was very good news indeed. Later in the day, I had a meeting with Tanya's boss, Dave, for he requires some minor and some major changes to a price list that I created the artwork for, almost a year ago. It will involve utilising an existing 3D drawing, except I will be incorporating a 3D drawing of a truss (the metal scaffolding that you often see at rock concerts where the lighting and other rigging is attached to).
From there, I then had to whizz into Havant, namely HobbyCraft, to buy some 3M Spray Mount. Rather than mount my photographic prints by cutting out apertures from mount board, I much prefer to 'flush mount' mine, mainly because I find it much easier and far less hassle.
The good thing is, I always order my prints from a photographic laboratory, namely Bolton Colour Laboratory, so they always arrive cut to size. All I do then is spray the back of the print with 3M Spray Mount and stick it to a thick piece of paper, either mid grey or black, trim the paper so that an even border (usually around 3mm all round) is left. Finally, I then spray the back of the 'mounted' print and stick it to the final piece of white mount board, making sure it's straight and centred. Job done, only I had to do this with eight of them!
3M SprayMount adhesive is the choice of the Art and Design Market, and I've been using it one way or another since 1986. The major benefits of the Spray Mount adhesive is that it allows repositioning for up to 12 hours when sprayed on one surface, and for up to 2 hours when applied to both surfaces. Once the SprayMount Adhesive dries, and ultimately sets, the spray adhesive provides a secure, long term bond that will not become brittle with age. SprayMount adhesive is ideal for creating and mounting mock ups, mounting designs, photos and illustrations, picture displays, working with exhibition boards, lightweight materials, and theatre sets.
For more information about 3M, the company that produce Spray Mount, please click on the logo above.
Monday 6th September 2010 14:34
Tanya and I had to share the devastating disappointment about the fact that the modem within our set top box had died… we were without the internet and wouldn't be connected again until Virgin Media would send a technician round… tomorrow afternoon. Aaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhh! No internet?!?! That's worse than many things that are worse than worse.
Anyway, not sure how PCs connect to the internet, nor is it of any concern to me to be honest, however, almost all Apple's latest product line, PowerBooks, eMacs, iMacs and Power Macs have either Aiport or Airport Extreme as a standard utility. Airport is a local area wireless networking product, based on the IEEE 802.11 standard, also known as Wi-Fi… so there you have it in a nutshell, and one of the reasons I've fallen behind updating my blog this week!
To find out more about Airport, please click on the logo, alternatively, if you'd like to download the shiny vector-based drawing I've done of it, please click here.
Sunday 5th September 2010 21:12
Anxiety; it's something we all suffer with from time to time, no matter how 'cold' or 'warm' a person we are. The thing is, anxiety can involve many emotions whether they be depression, confidence, insomnia, phobias or stress. See, now you realise that anxiety isn't something girlie, it's real and can affect absolutely anyone.
Nail biting is a form of anxiety, something I used to do as a child. Obviously drugs and alcohol fall into this bracket to a certain extent and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is becoming more and more common. Many sexual problems are all down to anxiety, such as erectile dysfunction, impotence, sexual performance anxiety, premature ejaculation and vaginismus, something I'd never heard of until finding this particular website (I'd rather not explain what it is, please find out for yourself).
Luckily, I didn't find this website in the hunt for sexual problems, it was more a case of trying to find out if there was a common term for the fear of wasps and this is why I stumbled upon it (Whatever - Ed).
I'd wanted to cover this topic after going to the Emsworth Show last week, for the whole event was riddled with the bastards. I absolutely hate them and will do everything in my power to avoid them. I know I'm embarrassing whilst they're around but I really cannot help ducking and diving and waving my arms around like some possessed madman. Having lived for over forty years, I don't think I've done too badly having only been stung once, when I was 23, and that was because I hadn't realised one was buzzing around my arm joint and I trapped it as I went to take a drag of a cigarette. Bastard thing.
I think my fear of wasps was exacerbated when I was on the Greek island of Meganissi in 1997. Trying to eat an evening meal whilst being joined by hundreds, and I do mean hundreds, of wasps has to be one of my biggest nightmares ever. Thankfully though, they're only around for a few months of the year, even though I do recall seeing one of the fuckers in November one year. What use they have on this planet baffles me immensely. Australia survives without them (okay, they have enough evil creatures to compensate), nevertheless, I think the psychotic stripy twats should be eradicated.
To find out more about anxiety and to receive help about it, or to just view the huge list of phobias, please click on the logo above.
Saturday 4th September 2010 18:51
Most people, if asked, would say I talk bollocks. Well today, it's been requested that I talk bollocks because there's a topic than many men would rather be out in the open and that's testicular cancer.
Unfortunately, in 1990, a close neighbour of ours didn't survive his battle at the age of only 37, but I have take my hat off to him, he fought and fought. I remember seeing him, most Friday nights, out with his mates and he always put on a brave face, despite the fact that he'd lost all his hair and was going through intense chemotherapy. Never have I seen someone look so ill and yet remain so positive; I had total admiration for him.
The internet couldn't be a better place to publicise the necessity to check one's tackle. One person who has made sure of this is 38-year old Philly Morris from Heswall on the Wirral. He is now a leading campaigner for testicular cancer awareness for young men in the UK.
After having two types of testicular cancer, he set up the UK's most visited testicular cancer website, checkemlads.com in April 2003, along with the help of well known musicians, Steve White and Paul Weller. During this time, he also helped raise awareness of testosterone replacement, together with long-time campaigner and cancer survivor, Nick O'Hara Smith.
Philly also works alongside his close friend and fellow cancer sufferer, Mick Riley MBE, who both hail from the same area of Merseyside, shared a room in the army and were in the same boxing team in Germany and both had the same cancer within five years of each other; the chances of this are around 560,000:1.
To find out more about how to check yourself or being aware of the first signs of testicular cancer, please click on the checkemlads.com logo above. Alternatively, you may just want to make a much-needed donation to a very worth cause.
Friday 3rd September 2010 17:04
Having gone a little stir crazy since putting my back out, I decided to be brave and face the big bad world again today. It took some time to organise myself; the putting on of shoes was one of the trickiest manoeuvres I had to encounter. Anyway, I was glad I did and hopefully I'm now on the road to recovery.
Later on in the day, I eventually took the plunge and chose the eight prints that I shall be entering into Havant Camera Club's 40th National Exhibition. All in all, there are five categories to enter (more if you're a member), and although I am eligible to enter the Member's Exhibition, I've chosen not to, and for two good reasons. One is that I feel it's a waste of money, and two, regardless of the fact that you are guaranteed to have one of your prints selected for the exhibition, it's hardly enough of an incentive for me to enter. I'd rather my work be selected for its artistic merit, and the fact that it has appealed to three people's taste than to take the easy route. Even if I'm not successful, so what?
Anyway, I felt rather bad for leaving it so late, because I asked too much of the laboratory I usually use and there was just no way he'd have been able to do what I needed in such a short space of time (the closing date for handing print entries in is this-coming Tuesday, 7th September).
So, I ended up using a London-based company called 'The Print Space' who have a growing reputation as the number one place to go to for professional photographic prints on the internet. Their size range covers panoramic to standard with a wide range of papers to choose from such as Fuji Gloss, Matt and Flex as well as Kodak Metallic C-type prints, as well as a large range of Giclee art papers.
Click on the image above to access theprintspace website (I have included the eight images I chose, top and bottom of theprintspace logo).
Thursday 2nd September 2010 19:38
Time for a bit of fun, Dancing Banana fun to be precise.
The Dancing Banana is an internet phenomenon, in the true meaning of the word, and has been ever since the late 90s after appearing in a Flash clip called, 'Peanut Butter Jelly Time'. The clip attracted a huge amount of attention and became a worldwide hit, one of the first internet memes.
Ever since then, its popularity has grown with users continuing to create new versions of the banana with different themes, although the original dance animation is usually the same. Amongst the new variants have been dancing carrots, cucumbers and peppers and also different characters such as Granny Banana, Baby Banana and Superman Banana; some of which can be seen below.
Shortly after its debut, thousands of unique and animated dancing banana emoticons were created and used in forums across the internet. The ':banana:' emoticon shortcut still works in many forums and blogs for displaying the banana animation (Including this one now - Ed). Since then it has also made its way into pop culture, making several appearances in television shows and other media.
To view many more beloved Dancing Bananas, please visit its own Photobucket pages by clicking on The Dancing Banana logo I designed above, which, by the way, includes the font 'Banana' by the Japanese 'Flat-it Foundry'.
Alternatively, just enjoy the Banana fest below…
Wednesday 1st September 2010 08:05
The medication I'd been prescribed yesterday, hadn't kicked in, and I'd had a dreadful night's sleep. The sharp pains I was suffering every time I moved in bed had kept me awake throughout the night. It had affected my sleep that much, I didn't actually wake up until 07:45… that has to be one of the longest 'lie-ins' I'd had in months and months. Having been horizontal all night, it proved to be an immense struggle getting out of bed… I'd had back pain before but nothing as intense as this.
Luckily, for me, because I am freelance, I am able to work for my clients from home, although it's equally as important for me to go in, for there are aspects of the job that I am unable to do from home. So, although it would have been as well for me to just rest all day, I find it difficult, especially as I don't actually feel ill. As with most people, I hate being bored.
Whilst on the hunt for a logo for a particular job I was doing, I stumbled upon the new Portsmouth City of Museums logo, which is rather colourful and contemporary. The eleven coloured bands that make up the logo all refer to the huge amount of places of historic interest that are dotted around the city. Not only do the colours work perfectly together but the logos for each place of interest are very clever indeed.
By clicking on the main logo above, you can access the City of Portsmouth's website or if you'd like to find out more about each individual museum's website, please click on any of the logos below.